Uploading on social media used to be so much fun! Now despite the hundreds of comments I get under my photos, telling me how great my photos look, I still get overwhelmed and feel pressured by social media involvement. I took a six-month, social media cleanse only to jump right back onto the stage of the cyber circus.
It’s not usually realistic to wake up and feel so vibrant that you’d take a selfie in bed. If I didn’t feel the expectation to share my life with the Web, I could go weeks without posting online. There must be so many other people who feel that push-and-pull from the tug between wanting to be present and posting.
When we were traveling around Europe last month, my girl-friend and I argued a lot about taking the perfect photo. Instead of snapping a picture for memory’s sake, I always felt the pressure to take a photo from a perfect angle, with the best lighting, as she posed in a curated Instagram pose. It was exhausting.
I noticed how she would check her social media pages each time she got connected to Wi-Fi, whether we were on a tour or at a restaurant. I also noticed how different her energy felt when she didn’t have access to Wi-Fi. So needless to say, I noticed the imminent rise and fall in her mood based on what she saw on social media. There were times I wished I could throw both of our phones into The Mediterranean Sea.
An article in Psychology Today describes the useful adaptation of social media mindfulness. It can be very uplifting to understand how the world of social media works in the first place. “People who have problems with social media–whether it’s severe FOMO (fear of missing out), negative social comparison, need for validation or overuse–will have similar issues in other aspects of their life. Rather than avoid social media, it is more effective to identify behavioral problems and learn skills to address and manage them, such as goal setting, self-regulation, and self-control.” -Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D.
This review by the Digital Journal highlights the different social media stresses and suggests how to keep them at bay. I don’t want to conform to a culture of constant disconnect. How do we stay present and live happy lives, outside of the unrealistic simulations projected from our cell phones?
Be discerning about who you follow.
Choose to engage with people who share real, imperfect information.
FIND THE GOOD
Look for ways to engage in the good and counteract the bad.
Take a social media cleanse.
If you haven’t done a cleanse before, I encourage you to try it. It’s amazing, total bliss. “Figuring out what makes people happy or unhappy is always messy, and much of the existing research is incomplete. But based on what experts know today, taking time away from social media seems more likely to brighten your day than bum you out.” -Markham Heid
This piece from Time questions how the rapid advancement of social media has affected the human psyche. I’d like to be able to keep up without feeling like a swimmer caught in a sea storm. The Buffer App explains how important positivity is on social media, whether you post it or perceive it. To be positive online generates positive feedback, leading to a positive experience overall.
Since there’s no way around it, the only solution to dealing with the pressures of social media is to work through it. Having a schedule for posting creates structure in such a chaotic world of constant posts. Follow pages that ignite inspiration rather than comparison. Take breaks if you need to! Don’t be fooled into believing the phrase “pics or it didn’t happen”. Life is just as beautiful lived through your own eyes.